The retina is a layer of ocular tissues that converts light into nerve impulses. In a healthy eye, the retina is attached to the retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE). This band of cells sits between the retina and its underlying connective tissue, called the choroid, to keep it functioning properly. As a person ages, the vitreous, the gel that flows within the eye, may disconnect from the retina without incident or symptoms. This process is entirely normal.
However, in some patients, the separation of the vitreous material can pull on the retina, creating a small tear or even complete detachment. In some cases, the retina may detach spontaneously due to vitreous movement, or it may detach as a result of an untreated tear, which allows fluid to get between the retina and underlying tissue. Retinal tear and detachment can compromise your vision because the retina no longer receives nourishment and oxygen from the RPE or choroid.